The First Degree Newport is at the lower end of this brand's price range. First Degree have established themselves as a quality maker of fluid rowing machines and enjoy a growing share of the highly competitive commercial market.
So should this model be on your list of potential buys? In short, yes - we definitely think you should. It has many of the features of their commercial rowers at a very reasonable price. However, it doesn't look as stylish as the Vortex or Evolution machines, in fact at best you could describe its looks as... well... functional. But if function is what you're looking for, then this will certainly deliver.
Some may not be swayed by the red frame, but this is a quality built machine and will last for years and take some punishment without complaining. It's one of First Degree's light models, weighing in at just 60 lbs (up to 68 when the tank is filled). But despite the lighter weight it will still handle a user of up to 300 lbs and feels solid when in full flow with the added benefit that it's easy to lift and move. It has transport wheels and store vertically and takes up minimal space when not in use.
It's not too difficult to assemble if you have some experience of putting together flat-pack furniture for example. But you can always get someone to help and it's something you only have to do once.
First Degree do make great seats. Many a rowing machine is let down by a poorly-designed seat, and when you're planning to spend hours a week sitting on it you need it to be comfortable - and the Newport delivers on this front! It also glides very sweetly and quietly up and down the beam and has a higher than average position - something you'll be thankful for when getting up from a punishing workout :0)
The tough water tank is durable and doesn't appear to suffer from leakage, even after 3 years - something that a number of our WaterRower reviewers have reported with their models. The other innovation First Degree have brought to the market is the two chamber water tank. This means you can change resistance levels by using a valve - see photo to the right - to move water from one to the other without having to drain or re-fill the water level.It took us a while to figure out that the AR in the model name actually means 'adjustable resistance' - DOH! However, this has to be done manually and not as part of a pre-set program that's possible with a magnetic resistance model.
For the price this is a great rowing machine. Water (or fluid) rowers aren't to everyone's taste, but we think the majority of users would certainly not be disappointed. Its looks may not win prizes (it doesn't come close to the WaterRower handcrafted models or the rest of First Degree's machines) but if you're looking for a rower that will get you into shape and last for years to come, then you can't go too far wrong with this one.